"Mindfulness Practice isn't just about escaping to some magical inner realm devoid of life's challenges. The Practice is about progressively opening your heart and calming your mind enough to engage Life directly, to be more fully Present in a kind, clear, and helpful way."

Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call! Musings on Life and Practice by a Long-time Student of Meditation.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Heart of the Matter

"My religion is very simple.  My religion is kindness."
--Dalai Lama

"What we expect is to be truthful; to be kind; to try to share; to try to love one another. Some folks don’t recognize that as a discipline: They say, "Oh, that old stuff…." And it may not sound too difficult, unless you’ve ever tried it. But if you ever try it, 
you’ll know it’s an exacting discipline."
--Stephan Gaskin, This Season's People

 
The only time I saw a somewhat severe Burmese Buddhist meditation master break into a belly laugh was when he raised his hand to his head and pointed out that most Westerners believe that their mind is in their heads.  The entire crew of monks sitting behind him on stage also dissolved into laughter.

After a few moments, regaining his composure, he then raised his hand to his heart and continued.  Although I don't remember the exact words his interpreter used, the point seemed obvious.  The One True Mind resides in our Heart.  

That certainly resonates with my own understanding.  It's all a matter of Heart.  It seems to me that Jesus -- and the Beatles -- had it right.  Love is all you need.  It's just that simple.  But it ain't easy.  The Practice of True Kindness and Compassion is, like the Stephan Gaskin pointed out years ago,  an exacting discipline.

In 1976, I learned from my first Zen teacher that heart, mind, and spirit are actually the same word in Japanese. Derived from a Chinese character, the word shin makes no distinction between these three realms of existence.  Our bodies, our minds, and our spirit are a seamless whole.  They are seen as inseparable. 

Conditioned as we are in society on materialistic overdrive, it sure doesn't feel that way for most of us much of the time, right? That's what led me to meditation. Following a deep yearning in my heart of hearts, I was intent on "getting it together"to live a life of Integrity. 
 
This process began, and continues on, with the commitment to spend time carefully observing how heart/mind/spirit actually operates within my own experience, to discover the ways that my conditioning operates to separate me from my own heart, from others, and from the exquisite intricate Web of Life.  With Practice, both on and off the zafu, I began to get a handle on how to slowly and gently become the person that, in my heart of hearts,  I yearned to be.  

Then, at a certain point in meditation, I realized that I actually AM the person I wish to be--and always have been!  At that moment, in a torrent of tears, I knew that with all my flaws, with my abundant neuroses and conditioned patterns,  that I was absolutely perfect as is--and so is everybody else!  

What an absolute Hoot! 

It Just Takes Practice 

Of course, as Zen Master Suzuki-roshi once said:  Each of you is perfect the way you are ... and you can use a little improvement.”  In fact, the major question that propelled Eihei Dogen, the founder of the Soto School of Zen, to leave Japan and seek a teacher in China seems to have been, basically,
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"If we are all already perfect, why bother practicing meditation?"  I've seen that question asked in any number of ways over the years.  

Though it does certainly seem to defy logic, the answer, for me at least, is pretty clear: Both on and off the cushion, Practice doesn't make perfect.  Practice is perfect.  And, like Life itself, it is a verb, not a noun.  Moment to moment, Practice continuously flows from and returns to the Heart's yearning-- and it's fulfillment.  

A Matter of Heart

It seems to me that the heart of the matter is that it is all a matter of the Heart. In the gentle caring of an open heart, we can actually see what each moment brings to us more clearly.  We may actually be able to be kind, to help out when needed.  As the Dalai Lama points out, it's as simple as that.  But, once again, simple doesn't mean easy. It takes Practice.

I'm grateful to the Teachers and Teachings that I've stumbled across over these past decades for pointing that out--and for the Teachers and Teachings that continue to grace my life each day.    

But, please, don't take my word for any of this.  See for yourself.  Practice.

I think I'll go Sit now.

How 'bout you?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

To chime in on the chakras, life force energy, we all share,yet charge differently as we seek to find the higher realms of love in pure white light. Our core of chromosome,colors,the seven chakras, being charged by our emotional soul...,our past, driven by our worldly thoughts,... future,..regret, grief,is... free will, as we are our own judge and jury to how we shine, light up like a beacon or not.. Balance is key. Feed truthfully into your own lessons of life. Let go of ego, let go of thought driven self, use the emotional soul to carry lessons learned, enjoying the growth from each lesson,appreciate having had the opportunity to experience the good and the bad, to have felt it as a human here., all while charging core with bright colors of self into true oneness.
We can not protect ourselves from our own negative energy, it is our own creation. And through growth, we know this to be true, as in 'to thy own self be true.' It's a feeling universe, and the highest blend of colors, wavelengths to feel, is love. Love of self in the knowing we are all part of the shine of creation as we ourselves create. LOVE. Feel your way through the dance of life here. link onto vibrational energy.

Namaste. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are one!

Jesus said, let your light shine! we have to 'let go' to let.

Lance Smith said...

Amen!

Children of The Light said...

Thank you Lance, I really loved this post. Much gratitude and Love to you brother!